Gov. Whitmer discusses budget proposals during Detroit luncheon

Posted at 7:29 PM, Mar 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-08 08:14:25-05

DETROIT, Mich. (WXZY) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer continued her "Road to Opportunity Tour" Thursday in Detroit, stopping by the Inforum Luncheon at the Detroit Marriott.

The governor addressed members of Detroit's business community, and discussed her recent tax and policy proposals.

A proposed 45 cent gas tax to improve Michigan's roads has sparked debate from many residents and state Republican leaders; Gov. Whitmer addressed the tax proposal during Thursday's event.

“No one wants to do a tax increase. But the fact of the matter is after 40 years of disinvestment we are in dire straits," Gov. Whitmer said.

Kimberly Hall Wagner with the City of Detroit attended the luncheon, and said she left feeling more informed. Like many there, she wanted to hear more about the governor's plan to improve the state's roads.

“It’s all the buzz about the tax gas and I wanted to know if there was some alternatives," Wagner told 7 Action News.

Wagner wanted to know if toll roads were a viable option.

Gov. Whitmer said tolls wouldn’t generate enough money to bring 90 percent of Michigan roads up to par, which is the national standard. According to Whitmer only 78 percent of state roads are considered in good or fair condition.

“I still think it’s going to take quite a chunk out of the median household income people. I wish there was another way," said Michelle Royer with OpTech.

More than 30,000 people have signed a petition to block the gas tax, many arguing it's double taxation in a state where driving is already very expensive.

Whitmer said seniors and low income families would have some relief from the hike under the new proposal, which would roll out in 15 cent increments beginning this fall.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is on board.

“I fully support what the governor is doing. And if she couples it with reducing car insurance, I’ll be going door to door to get her votes," Duggan said Thursday.

Whitmer said she could envision tackling both issues together, but didn’t go into specifics Thursday.

The governor also discussed her plans to improve adult post-secondary education in Michigan, and fix the state's water infrastructure.